To honor a legacy...

sonofzell Oct 1, 2018

  1. sonofzell

    sonofzell TrainBoard Member

    Greetings everyone,

    I suspect I'm not your "typical" new member... my motivation for joining this community may be somewhat unique. With the passing of my father earlier this year, this summer has easily been the most chaotic few months of my life. Included in this chaos was cleaning out my father's home (extremely hastily, for reasons I won't bore you with). He inherited the house from my grandfather, so I am now sorting through several generations of "stuff" collected by my lineage of pack-rats.

    While it was not something that my father or I inherited, my grandfather (a.k.a. "Pop-Pop") was arguably one of the most dedicated and pure lovers of all things railroad-related. In his 90 years (1920-2010) of life, his fascination and obsession with trains remained prominent throughout his childhood and never wavered as he grew into a soldier, a firefighter, and eventual retiree. Even as a young child I can recall his ability to develop an instant bond with any fellow enthusiast he would meet, and it was not uncommon for him to invite complete strangers into his home to marvel at his intricate model train layout. If one engaged Pop-Pop in any sort of train-related discussion, he would instantly dive in with banter that would only end when the poor inquisitor was able to pry himself toward an exit (or his panicked wife came knocking on the door looking for him! - that's a true story).

    Okay, I doubt anyone here is really interested in my family history, so more to the point, it should be no surprise that when he moved on, pop-pop left behind a massive collection of railroad treasures (one his favorite sayings was "he who dies with the most toys wins!"). As the new owner of these items, I'm faced with a number of challenges involved in identifying, inventorying and passing on the thousands of model trains and collectibles that I simply do not have the means to maintain.

    I know what you're thinking... don't worry - I have no intention of flooding this forum with "for sale" posts. This seems like a community of true enthusiasts, and although I don't share your passion, I sincerely appreciate it. What I hope is that I can honor pop-pop by doing what he loved more than anything: sharing his love through his endless souveniers - everything from full-scale equipment to old newspaper clippings. I like to believe that if he's looking down on "the little brat grandson" (his loving moniker for me growing up lol), nothing would make him happier... and, if I'm being completely honest, it may help to counter some of the nagging guilt I have about my decision to relinquish his cherished items (I simply don't have the means to, nor would I ever really appreciate them as he did or another enthusiast would).

    In return, I may occasionally call upon the collective knowledge of this community for guidance, as I am obviously no expert on the value or uniqueness of this collection. I'm certainly not striving for any "top-dollar return" on any items - the word "collector" was always an insult to my grandfather. It was always understood that his trains were to "be played with", and anything left on a shelf or in a box to retain its value was nothing short of a tragedy to him! He could have some super-valuable boxcar and end up re-painting it with custom numbers if that's the way he liked it better! That being said, I know he'd also shudder at the thought of me "giving away" something for less than its worth simply because of my ignorance.

    At any rate, this is my verbose way of saying "hello", and I sincerely hope my "outsider" status as a non-enthusiast doesn't offend anyone. As soon as I'm able, I'll start raking through his collection for things to share. I hope they're as valued here as they were to him - nothing would make him happier!


    Kirk Williams
    Bucks County, PA

    Me & "Pop-Pop", December 1979.

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

    Welcome aboard Kirk! Sounds like a nice way to honor your grandfather. Look forward to seeing what you uncover to share with everyone.
  3. Eagle2

    Eagle2 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Kirk, welcome and we're honored that you have chosen to share some of his legacy with us. I have little doubt that, given how you've described him, your grandfather would rather see his treasures find homes with those who share his passion over becoming things stored out of sight.
    sonofzell and Hardcoaler like this.
  4. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

    Hi Kirk, Welcome. I realize that documenting all your stuff will take time, but I believe that's the only way we can give you a reasonable value of each item and/or groups of items. The Trainboard Swap Meet forum (scroll down) is where you would have a much better chance of train lovers like your "Pop-Pop" taking your items and at a fair price. We'll help you as much as possible, good luck.
  5. sonofzell

    sonofzell TrainBoard Member

    Thank you, I sincerely appreciate that and I'm certain I'll have no shortage of questions for you guys. I'm hoping to share his mementos and souvenirs as "discussion pieces" so I don't become a one-way community member just sucking out info without any contribution!

    Fortunately, my grandfather was extremely organized and seems to have kept a detailed inventory, at least for his actual model trains. I've begun the process of compiling a spreadsheet from his records; I realize that without photographs, it won't be much help - and yes, that process is certainly going to take a while! It will likely be something I'm able to do in phases (box by box or by category?), or even share some of his notes as I add them. I'm assuming notes such as "L636W UP Denver-O" may be more easily recognized here than me trying to decipher on my own.

    ...and by the way, your signature line was another of Pop-Pop's favorite sayings lol!
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    What a great picture!!!
    sonofzell likes this.
  7. fitz

    fitz Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Welcome aboard, Kirk and thank you for your family history. I will be fascinated to see what your grandpop collected. Sounds like he was really into the hobby.
    sonofzell likes this.

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